PREMIER LEAGUE

Everton: "Pickford did not mean to hurt Van Dijk" says Ederson

Jordan Pickford has received criticism for his challenge on Virgil van Dijk, but the Everton goalkeeper has Ederson's sympathy.

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Ederson: Pickford did not mean to hurt Van Dijk

Ederson has spoken out against the criticism aimed at Jordan Pickford after the Everton goalkeeper's rash challenge on Virgil van Dijk left the Liverpool defender requiring surgery.  The England number one clattered into the Dutchman in the early stages of last month's Merseyside derby, with Van Dijk now set to miss most of the season. 

Pickford, who was left out by Carlo Ancelotti in the Toffees' defeat to Newcastle United last time out, has come under fire from many quarters, but Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson has sympathy for the 26-year-old. 

Speaking ahead of City's crunch clash with Premier League champions Liverpool on Sunday, Ederson said: "First and foremost, I don't think any player steps on the pitch looking to injure an opponent. Sometimes you have a fraction of a second to make a decision. Unfortunately, Jordan Pickford had that clash with Van Dijk and it ended up resulting in a serious injury. That's part of football; sometimes it happens. It could happen to any of us. I don't think it was Pickford's intention to injure Van Dijk and in the same way I don't think it was [Sadio] Mané's intention to do that when he clashed with me in our game a few years ago. You have such a short time to make a decision and it could happen to any of us." 

City aiming to make it four straight home wins over Liverpool

Van Dijk's absence is undoubtedly a boost for City's prospects at the Etihad Stadium this weekend, with Fabinho also set to miss out for the visitors. But Brazil international Ederson knows Jürgen Klopp's side will still carry a threat as City seek a fourth consecutive home league win over the Reds for the first time since 1937. 

"Their best centre-back, Van Dijk, is out," he said. "Fabinho has been playing really well this season and he's out too. But we mustn't forget that Liverpool still have great players.  Their absences aren't going to be a big disadvantage for them or a big advantage for us. We don't focus on the players that aren't going to play, or a specific absence, we focus on Liverpool as a whole team."

Ederson and Alisson

The match will see Ederson come up against a familiar face, with compatriot Alisson in between the posts at the other end. Despite competing for a starting spot for their country, the two are friends.  “I have a good friendship with Alisson. He is an incredible guy," he said. "Our rivalry is only on the pitch, off the pitch that doesn't exist. We are good friends. I hope we both can have a good game on Sunday. Our style is very similar. Perhaps I play more with my feet, but so does he. Liverpool have more or less the same style of play and he is an incredible goalkeeper." 

Alisson faces a tough task, with Liverpool having failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their past 10 away league games against City, conceding 26 goals in that run. City, who are looking to win back-to-back top-flight games for the first time this season, have been victorious in nine of the their past 10 Premier League games against the team who were reigning champions.